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Qualifying analysis - Brazil to rain on McLaren’s parade? 24 Nov 2012

(L to R): Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren in the Press Conference.
Formula One World Championship, Rd20 Brazilian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 24 November 2012 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4-27 locks up under braking.
Formula One World Championship, Rd20 Brazilian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 24 November 2012 Adrian Newey (GBR) Red Bull Racing Chief Technical Officer and Christian Horner (GBR) Red Bull Racing Team Principal.
Formula One World Championship, Rd20 Brazilian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 24 November 2012 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F2012.
Formula One World Championship, Rd20 Brazilian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 24 November 2012 Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Williams, Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Williams Third Driver, Frank Williams (GBR) Williams Team Owner and Bruno Senna (BRA) Williams at the Williams Team Photo.
Formula One World Championship, Rd20 Brazilian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 24 November 2012 Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Williams FW34.
Formula One World Championship, Rd20 Brazilian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 24 November 2012 Force India VJM05 in the garage.
Formula One World Championship, Rd20 Brazilian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 24 November 2012 Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus E20 with broken front wing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd20 Brazilian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 24 November 2012 Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W03.
Formula One World Championship, Rd20 Brazilian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 24 November 2012 Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) Sauber C31 and the Sauber F1 Team.
Formula One World Championship, Rd20 Brazilian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 24 November 2012 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR7.
Formula One World Championship, Rd20 Brazilian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 24 November 2012 Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Caterham CT01 and Timo Glock (GER) Marussia F1 Team MR01.
Formula One World Championship, Rd20 Brazilian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 24 November 2012 Marussia F1 Team MR01 nose and front wing detail.
Formula One World Championship, Rd20 Brazilian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 24 November 2012 Pedro De La Rosa (ESP) HRT Formula One Team HRT F112.
Formula One World Championship, Rd20 Brazilian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 24 November 2012

The rain did its best to spoil Q1, but after Hamilton had dominated that conditions improved for Q2 and Vettel took a turn at the front. Hamilton, however, had the answer for both runs in Q3 which proved the fastest of the weekend, and Button jumped up to second ahead of Webber and Vettel as Alonso could do no better than eighth. With rain expected tomorrow, many teams ran compromise aero set-ups. We take a team-by-team look at the Saturday form at Interlagos…

McLaren
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 12.458s, P1
Jenson Button, 1m 12.513s, P2

McLaren have been fast all weekend and both Hamilton and Button were very pleased with their laps which locked up the front row for the Woking team. Hamilton was delighted with his first pole at Interlagos, where his average position has been fourth, and they are very keen to score the team’s first one-two since Canada 2010 to put them ahead of Ferrari in the constructors’ championship. Hamilton in particular is keen to sign off on his McLaren career with a final victory, back-to-back with Austin.

Red Bull
Mark Webber, 1m 12.581s, P3
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 12.760s, P4

Webber said his Red Bull just wasn’t quick enough for the front row, though he only missed out by a fraction, while Vettel made a mistake on his first run in Q3 and was then a trifle bemused not to go quick enough on his second. But third and fourth places were hardly a disaster, especially with Alonso starting only seventh. The odds clearly favour Vettel for the title, barring disaster.

Ferrari
Felipe Massa, 1m 12.987s, P5
Fernando Alonso, 1m 13.253s, P8, will start P7

Massa was a little lucky to get through to Q3 after leaving his best run right to the end of Q2 and scraping through in 10th place, but then felt that he got the perfect lap in Q3. He said he was very happy with fifth on the grid, and one can suggest that was because it put him ahead of Alonso. The Spaniard said he wasn’t surprised by his Ferrari’s disappointing pace, though since Korea he had been telling everyone to expect an improved machine for this race. And he acknowledged that his best chance for the title lies in Vettel striking trouble rather than the red car being able to beat the blue one by the margin of positions that he needs. As in Austin he was fortunate to make up a place with another driver’s penalty, in this case Maldonado rather than his own team mate.

Williams
Pastor Maldonado, 1m 13.174s, P6, will start P16
Bruno Senna, 1m 14.219s, P12, will start P11

Maldonado did a fine job to qualify his Williams sixth, but he had missed a weight check in Q2 and since that was his third reprimand of the season he was later given a ten- place grid penalty. Senna was unlucky to miss out on Q3, blaming the change in track conditions and pointing out that he’d gone quicker in FP3 than he did in Q2.

Force India
Nico Hulkenberg, 1m 13.206s, P7, will start P6
Paul di Resta, 1m 14.121s, P11, will start P10

Hulkenberg was pleased with changes which proved beneficial to his car between FP3 and qualifying, but Di Resta, who made no changes at all after being very happy with his car in the morning, felt that the track went away from him and was less comfortable.

Lotus
Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 13.298s, P9, will start P8
Romain Grosjean, 1m 16.967s, P18

Good and bad befell Lotus. Raikkonen’s E20 was fitted with an ‘old’ engine after the motor which gave trouble yesterday grenaded itself in FP3, and he qualified ninth and starts eighth. Grosjean tangled with De la Rosa in Q1, losing his front wing in the drag to the finish line. He got into the pits in time for a replacement, banged in a halfway reasonable lap and looked as if he’d made it into Q2, but then he got bumped right at the end by Ricciardo.

Mercedes
Nico Rosberg, 1m 13.489s, P10, will start P9
Michael Schumacher, 1m 14.334s, P14, will start P13

Rosberg got more out of his car than Schumacher managed, after Mercedes set them both up in a compromise for the rain that’s expected in the race. The German qualified 14th, but will start his last F1 race in 13th after Maldonado’s penalty.

Sauber
Sergio Perez, 1m 14.234s, P13, will start P12
Kamui Kobayashi, 1m 14.380s, P15, will start P14

Both drivers felt they reached the limit of what the C31 could do in the dry, but with rain forecast they believe than can be a lot more competitive in the race.

Toro Rosso
Daniel Ricciardo, 1m 14.574s, P16, will start P15
Jean-Eric Vergne, 1m 14.619s, P17

Both drivers were happier with their cars in the cooler conditions, and had their usual intra-team battle. They opted for a set-up commensurate with the rain that’s expected, and are optimistic of fighting for points again.

Caterham
Vitaly Petrov, 1m 17.073s, P19
Heikki Kovalainen, 1m 17.086s, P20

Petrov’s Q1 pace confirmed Caterham’s progress. Kovalainen should have been closer, but admitted to a couple of small mistakes on his best lap.

Marussia
Timo Glock, 1m 17.508s, P21
Charles Pic, 1m 18.104s, P22

Glock said he really enjoyed the first few laps of Q1 when the track was at its dampest. Pic said he was happy with his FP3 pace, when he matched Glock, but the conditions for Q1 made life more tricky. Both felt they lost big time without KERS on the run out of Juncao corner up to the finish line.

HRT
Narain Karthikeyan, 1m 19.576s, P23
Pedro de la Rosa, 1m 19.699s, P24

De la Rosa was disappointed by the collision with Grosjean at the end of what he thought could have been a competitive lap, and had to park his HRT in the pits with suspension damage as a result. Karthikeyan felt he made good progress in FP3, and had no complaints after qualifying.

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